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The countries with the highest number of UN peacekeeping forces include countries like Bangladesh, Nepal, Rwanda, etc. They are not major geopolitical players unlike US, UK or China.

What do these countries gain from UN peacekeeping deployment?

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    In addition tot the other answers, it should be noted that in some countries military are fairy willing to take part in peacekeeping missions - for increased benefits or for career advancement. Therefore, the country can get the advantages mentioned in the answers for no (or very little) political cost.
    – Pere
    Oct 7, 2023 at 14:02
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    It has been alleged that Fiji's military used experience from peacekeeping missions to launch repeated coups, so the active experience may be considered useful in other countries.
    – gormadoc
    Oct 8, 2023 at 3:24
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    @Mazura Umm we're not talking about the United States here... I have mentioned example countries in my question
    – whoisit
    Oct 8, 2023 at 4:29
  • @gormadoc - there is a fairly long tradition of Fijians serving in UK and other Commonwealth armed forces, often in elite/special forces branches, which would also provide useful training and experience. Until recently, (probably still) Fiji Islanders were the largest contingent of Commonwealth soldiers in the British military, at around 2,000. Oct 9, 2023 at 12:27

2 Answers 2

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Tl;DR:

Although it makes sense for countries, local to the region, but still objectively, politically, separate from it, to take part in peacekeeping missions near their geographical location, reimbursement for deployment, ie. money, is probably a big factor for the poorer nations.

THE UN’s first peacekeeping mission, which started in 1948, was to keep a truce after the creation of Israel. Seven decades later, that mission continues, and the total number of peacekeeping operations worldwide has grown to 16, deploying more than 100,000 military personnel. Most are in Africa; the largest, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, involves 18,900 blue helmets.

The UN divvies up the cost of peacekeeping among its members using a complicated formula that includes economic heft. Later this year China will double its paymemts to more than 10% of the global total, overtaking Japan as the second largest contributor. America shells out more than a quarter, and together the top ten countries account for four-fifths. But when it comes to manpower, the pattern is very different. Since 18 American soldiers died when a helicopter was shot down in Somalia in 1993, the United States has almost stopped sending troops. It now has only 74 military personnel involved in peacekeeping, only half of them soldiers.

Altogether, the ten biggest budget contributors supply only 6% of peacekeepers. China is the only country to feature on both top ten lists. But it is African and Asian countries that provide the lion’s share of troops. The UN pays countries $1,330 a month per soldier, meaning that peacekeeping can be lucrative for poor nations. Tiny Rwanda contributes 6,146 military personnel and pays just $16,500 to the budget annually, about as much as it receives for supplying one soldier.

https://www.economist.com/graphic-detail/2016/06/01/who-fights-and-who-pays-for-un-peacekeeping-missions

Other links:

https://peacekeeping.un.org/en/deployment-and-reimbursement

https://peacekeeping.un.org/en/how-we-are-funded

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-43046554

How much does a UN soldier cost?

The claim: Countries contributing troops to UN peacekeeping missions are well paid for sending their personnel.

Reality Check verdict: Countries are paid to provide personnel to UN missions and the top countries providing troops are unrepresentatively poor. The amount countries are paid for providing those troops is considerably higher than the average wage in most of the countries sending large numbers of troops.

"Troop contributing countries get an awful lot of money from the UN for sending troops - they don't want to not send troops," she said.

Countries sending troops (including police and military experts) are paid $1,410 (£1,017) per month per soldier by the UN, which is considerably higher than the average wage in many countries.

The exception to the rule that poorer countries tend to provide the most troops is China - which is number 12 on the list of troop contributor countries - and is also in the top three financial contributors to the UN budget.

Of the other biggest contributors to the budget, the United States is number 73 on the list of troop contributors with 48 people deployed, while Japan is close to the bottom of the list with two people deployed.

Also:

the vast majority of UN expenditures ... are not direct disbursements to deployed individuals but reimbursement payments to TCCs and PCCs.

With the exception of the force commander and a few very senior officers, the UN does not employ the uniformed personnel deployed in its peace operations: most troops and police officers remain in national employ and therefore receive their salaries from their states rather than from the UN.

Direct UN payments to deployed uniformed personnel are therefore very limited. Staff officers, military observers, and individual civilian police officers receive a daily mission subsistence allowance (MSA) ranging from $56 to $208 depending on location, with which they are expected to find their own accommodation and food.

The most significant portion of the UN’s military and police personnel expenses takes the form of two kinds of reimbursement payments to TCCs and PCCs.

The first is directly related to personnel: TCCs and PCCs are reimbursed at a current base rate of $1,028 per month per contingent member, plus a specialist rate of $303 per month for a set proportion of the deployed troops (25 percent of logistics units, 10 percent of all other units). They currently also receive a supplemental payment of 6.75 percent of the base rate ($69.39 per unit member per month)

Some TCCs and PCCs distribute all or part of these funds to their deployed personnel, but they are under no obligation to do so. TCCs and PCCs also receive $68 per month per contingent member as a “personal clothing, gear and equipment allowance” and $5 per month per contingent member for “personal weaponry and training ammunition.”44 The total average personnel cost reimbursement to TCCs and PCCs is thus approximately $14,400 per contingent member per year ($15,000 for members of logistics units).

Regarding supplying equipment, not just people:

Wet leases, in which the contributing state assumes responsibility for the equipment’s maintenance, are by far the most common arrangement. Specified monthly wet lease rates range from $7 for a pair of loudspeakers to $33,532 for a level-three hospital, but for some “special case equipment” items (e.g., radars) the reimbursement rate is determined on a case-by case basis. In addition, the UN acknowledges three “mission factors” that may increase the lease rates by up to 5 percent each.

(2014 costs; PCC: Police-Contributing Country; TCC: Troop-Contributing Country)

https://www.ipinst.org/wp-content/uploads/publications/ipi_political_economy.pdf

Peacekeeping soldiers are paid by their own Governments according to their own national rank and salary scale. Countries volunteering uniformed personnel to peacekeeping operations are reimbursed by the UN at a standard rate, approved by the General Assembly, of US$1,428 per soldier per month as of 1 July 2019.

Police and other civilian personnel are paid from the peacekeeping budgets established for each operation.

https://peacekeeping.un.org/en/how-we-are-funded

(repeated info)

https://sgp.fas.org/crs/row/IF10597.pdf

U.N. members, often referred to as troop contributing countries (TCCs), voluntarily provide military and police personnel for each mission. Peacekeepers are paid by their own governments, which are reimbursed by the United Nations at a standard rate determined by the General Assembly (about $1,428 per soldier per month).

The peacekeeping financial year runs from July 1 to June 30; the Assembly usually adopts resolutions to finance missions in late June. The approved budget for the 2022- 2023 peacekeeping fiscal year is $6.45 billion. Four missions comprise about 70% of the overall budget: MINUSMA (Mali) at $1.24 billion; UNMISS (South Sudan) at $1.11 billion; MINUSCA (Central African Republic) at $1.07 billion; and MONUSCO (Democratic Republic of the Congo), at $1.03 billion.

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    And this situation is also advantageous for the UN. Since, like many international institutions, they have faced accusations of only being a vehicle for the interests of wealthy countries, encouraging poorer countries to be the face of their peacekeeping missions may improve their image.
    – Obie 2.0
    Oct 6, 2023 at 18:47
  • Does that wage go to the soldier entirely or the country keeps a part of it (excluding income tax)?
    – whoisit
    Oct 6, 2023 at 20:16
  • @Obie2.0 True, but that cuts both ways. There have been extensive concerns about the deployment of undisciplined troops in Haiti and DRC and their relations with the population. A richer country might be better placed to maintain order in its, better-paid, soldiers (I do not claim that to be a given). As a result in any case, the UN military is controversial in both places. Oct 6, 2023 at 21:50
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    Even for relatively wealthy, but small nations like Ireland, this compensation can be a non-insignificant offset of the military budget, allowing for a larger and more experienced military than they would otherwise be able to afford. Oct 7, 2023 at 12:57
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    @whoisit The money paid by the UN goes to the country, not the soldier. Usually soldiers abroad get a higher salary than when not, but the height and form of these increases has no relation to what the UN pays.
    – Mast
    Oct 8, 2023 at 9:38
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In addition to blobbymcblobby's answer about direct financial benefits to poor countries, I also hold the hypothesis - not sure where to find corroboration - that contributing soldiers to UN missions can "keep a country in the game" when their electorate's popular sentiments towards more traditional reasons for armed forces are more doubtful.

For example, Canada has long been a NATO member, but contributions (1.2%) are not our forte. Until the Afghanistan mission, we had generally kept well clear of "kinetic" missions and we have done so since, ISIS-excepted. On the other hand, most Canadians have long been proud of their contribution to UN missions, which to some extent justify armed forces, even to the more pacifist amongst us.

Ditto Ireland, whose armed forces certainly do a fair bit of contributing to the UN.

i.e. it may be a middle ground between extensive de-militarization, a la Costa Rica, and a having a more traditional role for a country's armed forces. Having armed forces available, in case of national emergencies, can be seen as a useful just-in-case insurance policy and UN engagement provides a rationale for doing so, outside of those emergencies.

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    It's an interesting point, not least of which because Canada came up a lot in my quick search - I haven't found the links again, yet, but IIRC the gist of the articles was Canada's POV in contributing to the UN and its peacekeeping missions.. Oct 6, 2023 at 21:57
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    @blobbymcblobby: One reason that Canada shows up a lot in U.N. Peacekeeping searches might be because Lester B. Pearson, a Canadian diplomat at the time (But future Prime Minister), had been a key member in estalblishing peacekeeeping operations . So it tends to come up every so often as a historical moment that Canadians try to own. Oct 7, 2023 at 21:04
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    @Mazura Look it up for yourself. 1.2% is a well known number. Sorry, 1.29, my bad. This is not a question primarily about the exact nature of spending numbers so I see no need to get into your arguments. Which don't concern the US, a country which does diddly with UN missions. And, btw, none of your numbers look in the ballpark of reality. Not even close. Oct 8, 2023 at 7:48

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